TV ratings illustrate hunger for news on coronavirus threat


Medical personnel wait for motorists to pull up for COVID-19 coronavirus testing facility at Glen Island Park, Friday, March 13, 2020, in New Rochelle, N.Y. State officials have set up a “containment area” in the New York City suburb, where schools and houses of worship are closed within a 1-mile radius of a point near a synagogue where an infected person with coronavirus had attended events. State officials stress it is not a lockdown. The vast majority of people recover from the new coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, most people recover in about two to six weeks, depending on the severity of the illness. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Reflecting a hunger for information about the coronavirus outbreak, last Thursday’s episode of ABC’s “World News Tonight” had more viewers than anything that aired in television’s prime time last week.

That edition of the David Muir-anchored broadcast reached 10.8 million viewers, slightly more than an original episode of “NCIS,” the Nielsen company said. Collectively, the ABC, NBC and CBS evening newscasts on Thursday — which all air prior to the 8 p.m. start of television’s traditional prime time — reached 26.3 million people.

CBS’ “60 Minutes,” which featured a Scott Pelley report on how New Rochelle, N.Y., is dealing with its hot spot of infected patients, and the CNN debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders also finished in Nielsen’s top five last week.

Television networks will be watching closely in the next few weeks to see how viewership is increased by all of the people left housebound by the virus. It’s usually the opposite as spring approaches and improving weather send people outdoors and away from their TVs.

CBS was the week’s most popular network, averaging 6.2 million viewers in prime time. ABC was second with 5.2 million, NBC had 3.7 million, Fox had 3 million, Univision had 1.4 million, ION Television had 1.3 million, Telemundo had 1.1 million and the CW had 700,000.

The three news networks dominated cable viewership last week. Fox News Channel averaged 3.54 million viewers in prime time, CNN had 2.85 million, MSNBC had 2.3 million, TBS had 1.13 million and HGTV had 1.12 million.

“World News Tonight” averaged 9.9 million viewers for the week. NBC’s “Nightly News” was second among the evening news programs with 8.5 million viewers and CBS had 6.1 million.

For the week of March 9-15, the week’s 20 most popular programs, their networks and viewership:

1. “NCIS,” CBS, 10.76 million.

2. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 10.44 million.

3. Democratic Presidential Debate, CNN, 9.9 million.

4. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 8.89 million.

5. “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 8.74 million.

6. “The Bachelor,” (Tuesday, 8 p.m.), ABC, 8.55 million.

7. “FBI,” CBS, 8.31 million.

8. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 8.14 million.

9. “The Bachelor” (Monday, 8 p.m.), ABC, 7.75 million.

10. “American Idol,” ABC, 7.47 million.

11. “The Masked Singer,” Fox, 7.25 million.

12. “Hawaii Five-0,” CBS, 7.11 million.

13. “Survivor,” CBS, 6.92 million.

14. “Station 19,” ABC, 6.65 million.

15. President Trump Address, CBS, 6.57 million.

16. “Hannity” (Wednesday), Fox News, 6.44 million.

17. “Mom,” CBS, 6.442 million.

18. “NCIS: New Orleans,” CBS, 6.345 million.

19. “Bull,” CBS, 6.32 million.

20. “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 6.28 million.

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